By Michael Dore
How do you reverse a 13 month, 26 start form slump that has seen a greyhound slide from C5 520m races to C1 295m races?
Put him in Box 4!
A few months ago, such advice would have seemed insane, but with Preferred Box Draws (PBD) in play, racing can be very, very different.
Back in April last year, Goldstar Mauney was in top form, defeating Ozzie over 520m at Addington to make it 16 wins from 69 starts. But then came the slump.
On the brink of retirement, he was nominated for a PBD sprint on Monday 23 May and lined up in the red rug as one of three designated Railers, and this race illustrated Goldstar Mauney's raceday issue.
"He's too polite," observed GRNZ Racing Manager Michael Dore.
"Jumping from the one, he saw others wanting his space and he allowed them to take it, whilst not looking 100 per cent comfortable on the rail."
After the race, GRNZ reassessed Goldstar Mauney as SR, a Straight Railer, meaning he would start outside the Railers and inside the Straight runners.
On 31 May, it worked the oracle. The field jumped in an even line and proceeded to race pretty much "in their lanes". For the first time in a long time, Goldstar Mauney had no one wanting to take his space. He showed his true ability, accelerating away to a six-length win in a scarcely believable 17.04 seconds.
17.04 was naturally the best of the day on a Tuesday – but it was also one of the quickest times recorded at Addington in May.
Dave Kingston, trainer of runner-up Optional Extra, was philosophical with the result.
"I was very happy with my dog going into the race, but I wasn't expecting 17.04. Racing always has a way of throwing something up, but he (Goldstar Mauney) will go up a grade and we will be back next week."
Goldstar Mauney was the most spectacular, but he wasn't the only dog on the day to break a drought using the early space provided by PBD racing.
Ray Casey's Taieri Snapshot snapped an absence from the top of the dais, of 17 races, when showing great racing smarts to dash away with Race 6 in 17.55. The designated W (Wide) runner jumped better from Box 7 and cut a clever path through the field to dominate the race from the turn.
Earlier in the month, Dark And Dusty made himself the pin-up boy of PBD by improving each week to win at his fourth PBD start on May 16.
It was his first win since clocking a promising 17.17 in September last year.
Kennel boss Sarah Clausen said, "We were on the brink of sending him to Great Mates as he just wasn't chasing like he used to. But jumping from 8 each week, his confidence returned and he chased hard to the line."